Hanley turns to 'new page' before return to Miami

Hanley turns to 'new page' before return to Miami

Hanley turns to 'new page' before return to Miami
LOS ANGELES -- Forty-eight hours prior to making his first trip back to Marlins Park, Hanley Ramirez knew the swarm of reporters huddled around his locker wasn't there to talk about his 2-for-4 performance from the night before.

"It's a new page now," Ramirez said. "I don't got nothing about Miami, guys."

Since Day 1 with the Dodgers, Ramirez has deflected questions that pertain to his time in Miami. They came immediately following the trade, before his debut at Dodger Stadium and after his first walk-off hit for L.A.

On Friday, Ramirez will make his return to Miami, the city where he played for seven up-and-down years before being traded to the Dodgers and leaving on not-so-great terms, and the questions came back.

"I don't want to be thinking about the past," Ramirez said. "I've got a lot of things to do here."

Upon making the trade, the Dodgers received the middle-of-the-order power bat they wanted to pair with sluggers Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier.

Ramirez received a much-needed fresh start. Through 14 games, both parties are reaping the benefits.

"They are always going to be a part of my family," he said. "That's where I spent the last seven years. Hopefully I've got more than that in the big leagues. For now, I turn the page and move forward with this team."

Ramirez is hitting only .226 since the trade, but he has added energy to the Dodgers' clubhouse, and he gives the team promise for the rest of the season and the next two years after that. Though he only has 12 hits, he also has 12 RBIs, and he has already delivered a few clutch hits in his short time with the Dodgers.

Manager Don Mattingly likened Ramirez to Kemp as the sort of do-it-all player who can turn a routine single into a double, or hit a ball to the opposite field.

"He gives us another one of those guys," Mattingly said. "They don't come along [often]. You don't just see Hanleys walking around all the time, guys that have the package of things they can do."

Ramirez came to the Dodgers after a season and a half of struggles. He dealt with lower back injuries, and saw his numbers decline dramatically.

However, Mattingly still considers Ramirez to be in his prime, and the skipper believes the Dodgers acquired the sort of player who could flourish in the right situation.

"He's been great," Mattingly said. "For me, right away, I see life. I see energy in the body. I see energy in the bat. Sometimes you see a guy come out of a situation and he doesn't have that fire."

Ramirez said he's been working with Manny Mota and talking to his new teammates -- Kemp, Ethier and James Loney -- to regain his confidence and timing with his swing.

As time goes on, he continues to feel much more relaxed at the plate.

Surrounded by guys that have what Ramirez called a winning attitude, the pressure isn't what it was with the Marlins. He feels like he is getting back to being the player who hit .342 and won a batting crown in 2009.

"A lot in Miami was he was trying to hit that bomb to prove to everybody he can still hit," said reliever Randy Choate, who came over to L.A. with Ramirez in the trade. "Here, he doesn't have to do that. He understands himself a little more."

Choate has noticed Ramirez smiling a lot more over the past couple of weeks, now that he isn't being criticized for not being able to carry a team.

For a long time in Miami, Ramirez was surrounded by a number of first- and second-year guys, but now he is firmly entrenched in a veteran lineup.

"It's nice to have positive attention again, and have the focus on you that is not always like, 'Why aren't you doing this, or why aren't you doing that?'" Choate said.

That was often the case in Miami, as Ramirez was leaned on to do the heavy lifting.

However, in L.A., that sort of pressure usually falls on the shoulders of Kemp, as Ramirez is relegated to more of a complementary role, which he is just fine with.

"He was a cornerstone and a very big part of that [Marlins] organization," said new teammate Shane Victorino, who was traded to the Dodgers not long after Ramirez. "Unfortunately, things didn't roll off the way he wanted and he got traded, but Hanley is a professional, and that is the one thing you get out of him."

"When it's 7:05 or 7:10 and it's time to start the game, you check that at the door. No friends at the game."

As for how Ramirez will be welcomed in South Florida when that time rolls around, that is still to be seen.

Victorino and Mattingly are hopeful that a player like Ramirez will get the reception someone who put in seven years -- including three All-Star seasons -- deserves.

Choate, who was there at the end, wasn't so sure that was going to be the case. He laughed and paused for a minute to think about it.

"Hopefully, they can appreciate what he did do for them for a long time," Choate said. "He was a great player there even when the teams weren't necessarily so great. It's unfortunate that he left on the note that he did, not necessarily living up to the expectations."

Ramirez says he could care less. He also laughs at the question, apologizing for not having much to say on the subject. He's got something else on his mind.

"At the end of the day, it's about championships," Ramirez said.

And for Ramirez, Friday's game is just another step toward a championship for the Dodgers. Nothing more, nothing less.

Alex Angert is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.